From my earliest memory, there was a piano in my parents’ house. And I wanted to learn to play it. Like most kids, I’d start pounding on the keys whenever I thought I could get away with it. Right around age 4, I started bugging my mom about lessons. My mom, wanting her instrument to be well cared for, went looking for a teacher. Some people assume it would have been easiest for her to teach me. Easiest? Yes. Wisest? Mmmmm, not so much. We tried that arrangement for a VERY brief period and the simple fact is we couldn’t separate ourselves from the mother/daughter arrangement long enough to be “just” student/teacher.
Most piano teachers – including yours truly – prefer their students to be about 5 years old before they start. There are two basic reasons – it helps if the student has some basic reading skills (since the eye movement is essentially the same) and since most lessons run about half an hour, it helps if the child can handle sitting on the piano bench for that long!
Miracle of miracles, my mom found a teacher willing to take me when I turned 4 1/2 because I was able to read a bit. We started with “mini-lessons” of about 15 to 20 minutes in length. My mom laughs at me a bit when I insist I remember when I started taking lessons but this was a VERY big deal to me! My first lesson was one week after I turned 4 1/2. That was 40 years ago TODAY.
I just wanted to learn to play the instrument. I never could have IMAGINED the doors it would open!
I started accompanying my school choir and solo and ensemble participants in 7th grade.
I was offered chances to sub in for church services when the pianist was gone.
I had the privilege of accompanying the all county massed choir (made up of every choir student from every participating school – a few hundred people!) my senior year in high school.
I spent two summers on staff at Camp Barakel (one of my FAVORITE places on earth!), serving as one of their two pianists.
I earned a Division I rating at District Solo and Ensemble my senior year and was given the opportunity to perform at State Solo and Ensemble.
All of these accomplishments are special to me. But they are all simply icing on the cake. The real joy was learning to play. Making music. I say often that the longest running love affair I have had is with the piano. At my happiest moments, it was there to allow me to express my joy. When I was sad, dejected, or just feeling a little “blah”, it was my escape.
Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Yep, that pretty much says it all.